Every Wrong Answer Tells A Story

Continuing my series of posts for things I find on the run, I give you another oddly placed floral foundling.

I’ve found flowers on the run before but none quite so . . . flamenco dancer. I mean, how hubba hubba is this beauty? I found her just off the sidewalk in the park, dropped in the Mercyburg Triangle between the batting cages, the bathrooms, and the skaters’ half pipe. There is a community center nearby, available for parties and meetings and pop-up church services. Perhaps a dancer decided to go swat a few fast balls after her stomps and click clacks?

I’m thinking it unlikely she went to grind on the half pipe in heels or even barefoot. And the community center has bathrooms inside so I doubt she’d opt for dragging a flouncy dress to the outhouses. The city removed the basketball hoops due to COVID so that only leaves the tennis courts, and tennis just doesn’t work barefoot. Of all the available options, kicking off her heels to swing for the fences is the most logical.

Not that it would be at all comfortable to do so in a dress but it could explain how the dress would become upset and consequently shed its embellishments. I wish there were sequins so I could write about a sequence of sequin consequences. But alas, only lace.

There is a disc golf course within a few paces of the Triangle. I assume one can play such a sport barefoot. But really, she might not have been playing a sport at all. Just because I found the flower in a recreational area doesn’t mean she was recreating. Maybe she just needed a walk to cool off after her dance. Maybe the flower was displaced in the clutch of a passionate embrace. Maybe it was pinned into her hair and not stitched to a dress. Maybe she didn’t dance here at all but was driven here on a date.

Remember parking? Do people still do this on dates? Remember getting ordered away by officers shining bright lights through the steamy windows? The park is closed! Remember scrambling to right our clothing, wondering how much was seen? Perhaps someone was rebooting the thrills of the good old days.

Until now it has not occurred to me to consider what kind of impact COVID is having on the dating scene. Are people Zoom dating now? Or just not doing it at all? I wonder. Did our fantasy girl walk six feet apart beside her date, making getting to know you chitchat? Perhaps the flower wasn’t crushed, mussed, or fussed away but simply poorly secured in the first place.

There are an awful lot of birthday parties held in this park. There is a rentable outdoor pavilion just on the other side of the bathrooms. Perhaps this flower was part of a birthday costume or some non-wearable decoration left behind during clean-up. The last time I played tennis here folks were giving away Thanksgiving meals in the parking lot. I don’t recall anyone dressed up for that event but I also didn’t stick around all day to watch. You know how event organizers like to trot out beauty queens to plump up interest. She might have been Grand Marshalless or Miss Free Feast or Gravy Queen or Queen of Thanks.

If I was trying to solve a problem this would probably qualify as overthinking it. Yet when it comes to sparking the imagination with a mystery there are endless possibilities and endless is fun when there are no wrong answers. Sometimes I wonder if the Universe does this on purpose, just to see where I’ll go with these trinkets and treasures. Or maybe the the point is less about where I go with them and more about the prompt working at all. Finding the magic in a woebegone world. Creating opportunities to resurrect words like woebegone. Enabling moments of connection with characters longing for life in one of my stories. Or simply longing for a new adventure in one of my stories.

The flower is both signal and gift, then. Someone wanted to dance again in my mind and dropped a hint. And then I give her not only the dance but any number of other follies and capers. Sports to try, cloying lovers, barefoot sprees upon municipal grass, exquisitely overdressed yet unfettered save for the errant fallen flower. I spin her world in a new direction, thus relieving her own woebegone narrative as she relieves mine. She longs for the things she only gets to do in my mind. I long to make those things happen. I watch them, describe them, and remember them, whereupon we both relish and relive them. She waits for me to make the magic she gets to live.

Yes, for an exchange as intimate as this only black lace will do. Sequins would have been too much.

— Mercy

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